Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Westward: The Novel is Released for Sale


          Although I have written fact based or true books in the past, I also occasionally write novels.  This is my second novel which was released for sale this week.  It is available in soft cover versions and in varietal electronic versions.

          For those who are interested in learning about it, or purchasing it, it is available at this link:



It is also up at the other stores:




About the Book Larissa (Lara) Crowell is a registered nurse with four young children.Now that her husband has made the transition from police officer to attorney, she hopes to be able to remain at home with their four young children. The sudden death of her husband causes her to have to return to work. This is the story of her adjustment and triumphs as she learns to combine both the world of being a breadwinner and a parent. It also traces her eventual meeting of the second great love of her life, and of her learning to trust him enough to blend him into her close family with her children. Sometimes the challenges you anticipate are not the ones that actually occur. 

      Thank you for considering reading it also.

  If I were to be honest, I would tell you that making a living as an author is nearly impossible.  Despite this, I have friends who are successful authors. One of them told me that recently she spent a million dollars promoting her last book, and it worked.


Monday, October 8, 2018

My Parents are Long Overdue an Apology

                 If I were to be honest, I would have to say that I owe both of my parents an apology. When I was in high school, in the Northeast, my parents were often at the school complaining about one choice or another. At the time, this was embarrassing.  So the school was giving three extra points on your final English grade for attending all of the sporting events that semester, and my parents found this objectionable.  They also found some of the progressive mumbo jumbo we were being taught, a waste of our time when there were so many other things we needed to be taught that would be useful in college.  "What do you care what the masses are being taught as long as your own kids know which end it up ?"    "It's bigger than that", said my parents. "When history is diluted and the masses no longer now it then they are sitting ducks for whatever propaganda a particular group wishes to perpetrate."   As a teen I did not see my parents efforts as a positive thing. I did not see that they were taking time off from their jobs to help to suggest a course correction on the high school level.

               It has taken quite a few years for me to understand the actions of my parents.  My college days are complete, my career is established and my own children, born in my twenties, have now completed college. Both of my parents have moved on.  When my son told me that his life was threatened by other students when they were unsure as to whether he would vote their way, in an upcoming election for then President Obama, I was stunned. Why couldn't they vote their conscience, and leave my kids to vote their own ?   I decided to come each week and have lunch with each of my kids who were, at the time, attending a large urban university.  I learned a great deal on these visits. I learned that there were professors who were really doing a great job and who were an exceptional educational value. I learned that there were courses in women's studies, some of which were perpetrating myths and lies that in no way approximated any experiences I had ever had in terms of growing up in this country.  I learned what I had already known, which is that although racism may always be the folly of a few, that the young people in this country, by in large, understand that we all have more in common with one another, than we have differences, and that we need the contributions of everyone to solve all of our nations and our world's problems.  I learned that a lot of college students may have borrowed money for university, that many of them are starving during the semester. My kids brought instant oatmeal and brown sugar for their friends, so that during the semesters, they all had a healthy, quick and inexpensive breakfast.

               My parents were right. Don't tell your kids what to think. Don't let your teachers, your professors and your schools do it either. Teach them to read. Expose them to broad ranging books, and let them choose farther afield than you might.  Talk to them. Let them express their views to you, and express yours to them.  Be respectful and polite.  If more people had taken the time my parents had, we might not have the rage and devisiveness we have in our country. True discussion is rare, and when someone makes headway, the other responds with threats or with vulgar language. No one wins.

                  I had a total of five children, and now I have a grandchild. I have a lot of skin in the game. I care as to how tomorrow looks.  Stop insulting one another. Start listening as to why your opponent believes as she does. Explain gently, why you do not. Stop the name calling.  To solve problems, we are going to have to work together.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Fix Your Algorithm

The company selling these is SaferingzUSA

             If I were to be honest then I would have to tell you that Google and Facebook are getting on my nerves.  A few weeks ago, I realized that the car seat I have for my young grandson is too small and so I googled some carseats, and went to the Wal-Mart website. The following day I bought one, installed it and now when I take my little grandson out, he'll be more comfortable and safe. Every day since then, on everything I do online I receive information on toddler car seats of every color and design imaginable.

                About five months ago, I was in the throes of writing my fifth book, a second novel. In one of the chapters, there is a wedding scene, and a honeymoon afterward. It's been a while since I've been on a honeymoon, and so I looked up online some of the rooms and what potential packages were available in the specific place that my characters had planned to go.  For five months now I have been deluged with ads for honeymoon packages, not only for the place I researched briefly, but for lots of other places as well. I have also been getting a fair smattering of ads for ethical diamond engagement rings, and even for conflict-free diamonds. Tell me, if your diamond is conflict free, will your marriage be? Is that the unspoken promise here?  I have also been deluged with ads for silicone wedding bands. Silicone wedding bands ? Really?  I am at a loss as to how to tell Google that not only am I not getting married, but no one in my household is either.

                 Recently, because two of my friends have rheumatoid arthritis and I am aware of much better treatment options now, I looked up the current protocols for treatment. I am a registered nurse and a couple of years ago I took a continuing education course on it. It wasn't at all a strange thing for me to be looking up one time only.  Now, I am deluged with coupons and information from drug companies trying to sell me on their drug for rheumatoid arthritis.  I am also receiving offers from major medical centers to be part of a study for experimental treatment.  I am getting so much mail on RA, I am beginning to think they know something I don't.

                I understand that algorithms used by Google, Facebook and other companies help to target the ads and information I receive, but for writers especially, this is excessive.  What happens if I look up thermite and seek a recipe for a book project ?  What happens if I do some research on an AR-15 because my character wants a quality weapon rather than an inferior substitute ?   What happens if I look up gonorrhea ?  Does a public health official arrive with a shot of Rocephin ?

               It might be good business to send information concerning hotel rooms to anyone looking at them, for up to a week.  It might be a good idea to send information on toddler car seats to parents and grandparents for a week after an inquiry has taken place.  There is no way I should be getting some of these ads when the book being researched is now completed, edited, getting its cover, and then is about to be released.  Google and Facebook, fix your algorithm !

Monday, June 11, 2018

Learning As We Grow


         If I were to be honest, I would have to admit that there is a lot that we normally don't understand as young people. As our children grow and as we are propelled into knowing of new experiences both as ourselves and vicariously through our children, we get glimpses of some of life's truths and if we are paying attention, we might actually learn from them.

         Some time ago, a couple of my friends married partners that were much younger than they were.  My fundamental belief on this was that many different relationships work for many different people and that as long as the people themselves are happy that it's no one's business but their own.   I held that belief and yet I did not understand.  Wouldn't you wish to have known the same television programs growing up as your mate? Wouldn't you like to know the same songs?  How superficial all of that really is.

          I realized only this week that all of those concerns are superficial things. Sometimes who we love is less about the flesh, and much more about the soul.   I am afraid that some of my friends discovered the concept of loving the soul of another human being long before I understood it.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Remembering Bagel

This is not Bagel, but he was similar as a young pup.

             In the late nineteen-seventies, right after I got my driver's license, my first official duty while driving alone was to stop at the post office in the next town. While I was there, a man with a shotgun in the back of his truck was giving away free puppies. He had only two left and he said he would shoot them at nightfall, if he were unable to find them homes. I took the male, and another man in the parking lot took the female.

                  My mother was not happy. She didn't think that anyone would shoot a puppy simply because it hadn't found a home. I was commuting to community college at the time, having graduated from high school early and the last thing she needed with another Northeastern winter coming, was a puppy. No matter how much I insisted that I would take care of it, she knew that at least sometimes, she would be called upon to do something with it, and she wasn't a dog person.
                 I did my best to take care of  the puppy. A year later, I was being sent fifty and eighty miles away to various clinicals in a nursing program, and my mother, and sometimes, my father, pinch hit for me with the puppy, who was now quite tall, and that I had named Bagel.   Bagel was light brown with medium length hair, and white markings. He was a hound with a beagly looking head, a mix I'm sure. He was kind, gentle, and an "all over you" kind of dog.
                  For the most part, Bagel was an "easy keeper".   He was a loving friend and didn't cause much trouble, except for the time he jumped through the plate glass window when the neighbor's dog was in heat.  I took Bagel to be neutered afterward during spring break.  My poor mother was actually charged with having the dog off her five acre lot, thanks to the rather nasty neighbor who had the dog in heat, and she paid the fine.

                   By 1981, I had married and I was working as a registered nurse, and I lived in a garden apartment about forty miles from my parent's home.  I wished I could have Bagel, and our other dog, Moppet, with me, but the place I lived only allowed one tiny dog, or cat, and neither were small.  I visited when I could, and made sure they both knew they were were loved.  By about 1982, we had bought our very first home.  It was in a rural area, on a mountain. The house itself was small, but I could have my dogs there. At first, my mother didn't want me to take the dogs with me, citing that occasional barking probably kept the house safer than not having them there.  Eventually though, I visited both dogs one summer day and found that they were both without water for a second time. I took them with me that afternoon.

                  My starter home had been a seasonal cabin in the Ramapo Mountain Range near a couple of lakes. There were lots of copperhead snakes in the woods, and in the prior summer someone had killed a rattlesnake. However, my own property was small.  The dogs didn't have the range they'd had at my parents home. I was really happy to have them both with me, but I also worked a lot and so I felt that I wished that I could have been at home more for them.

                  The following spring when I got my income tax return, we decided to fence our entire property so that when I was home, the dogs could be free, at least on the property. I hired two young contractors who had their own fencing business. Bagel especially, warmed to the young owner. One day, he brought both dogs, eggs, bacon and sausage in a dish.  The young contractor played with Bagel and said to him a couple of times, "I would love to have a dog like you on my forty acre farm."  On the last day the contractors were there finishing up my beautiful fencing, the owner asked me if I would consider giving Bagel to him. He said that would always care for him and would feed him excellent food.  He would allow him full run of the forty acres he had, which was apparently not far off Route 80 in what was then, very rural Hope, New Jersey. He also said that when the weather was good, he planned to take the dog with him to work. He told me that I could call to see how he was doing and perhaps even visit him if I wanted to. The man clearly loved the dog and the dog certainly adored him.  I felt foolish because here I was, fencing my yard for my dogs, and I was agreeing to give my dog to a man in a situation that would have been better for him.   My other dog was elderly, and would probably enjoy being an only dog, who could come in to the house more than she had been.  So the following day the man came with a new collar, leash, expensive dog food, to see me and to make sure I was alright with his collecting Bagel.  I wished the dog good luck, and hugged him. I told the man that if ever he had a problem, to bring the dog back to me.
                 I was sad after Bagel left, but I wanted him to have everything and I thought that the man he's grown attached to, could do that. My other dog was enjoying the attention.
                 On a Saturday two weeks later, the fencing contractor drove up to my house. He told me that Bagel had spent every day since trying to find a way to get back to me. A couple of days earlier, the contractor had actually located the dog on Route 80 heading East to try to get back to my home.  He said he knew then that the dog would be hit by a car if he kept him and so, he had to return him to me.  He let Bagel keep the new collar, leash and the bag of new food.  Bagel was thrilled to see me, and licked me profusely. Then, he licked the man, who had tears in his eyes, as if to thank him for returning him.

                  I had not understood how attached Bagel had been to me. I felt guilty that I had thought that a better living situation would please him more than the love I had given him from puppyhood. I would not make the same mistake again.  Even Moppet was happy to see Bagel.
                  Over the next couple of years we had two babies in that house, a boy and a girl.  We had an addition put on the house, but ultimately, we moved to a home in Virginia. I still remember driving the family car down to Virginia with both babies in car seats while my husband drove the largest rented yellow Ryder truck. Everything we owned was in the back of the truck, and the two dogs rode in the cab with him, because it was well air conditioned.

                   We fenced and built a kennel at our new home for both Bagel and Moppet and the two of them lived until both our babies were school children.  Moppet died suddenly as a very old girl indeed.  Bagel had a couple of strokes, and made near full recoveries. Eventually, he had one more, and I brought him with me to pick up the kids from school and then to see the vet. He lay on the front seat with his head on my lap, contentedly, took one more breath and died.

                  The next time someone on Craigslist or somewhere else says their circumstances have changed and that "their dog might be happier with someone with more time and a larger yard", please remember Bagel. He spent two weeks each day trying to get back to the original human being who'd rescued him as a six week old puppy. He didn't care where I lived or how much of my time was taken by a job or then by young babies. He didn't care that my house on a mountaintop had only a quarter acre.  He didn't care that we'd moved from rural New Jersey to blisteringly hot Virginia. He cared that he was with his human.  It is very likely that your dog feels exactly the same about you.

Monday, July 31, 2017

How Time Passes

             If I were to be honest, I would have to tell you that I am absolutely in awe of how quickly time passes. I still remember Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw, who hold multiple Phds, and their discussions of life extension on the Merv Griffin Show when I was a teen. I followed some of their recommendations, and I must say, it has worked in terms of keeping me fairly healthy, energetic and youthful. It has not slowed the passage of time though.

            In the early 1980s, before I left NJ, I was a young RN and I made many friends at what is now the Robert Woods Johnson Medical Center, which is also the teaching hospital of Rutgers Medical School.  I had many friends who came from all over the world, both men and women who had come to do a fellowship or a residency. What I remember most is their senses of humor. So many of them were very funny and this kept me on my toes.

            This week I learned that one of my dear friends from those days has died. Without naming him, I would like to say he was one of the kindest people to both his patients and to all the staff. He loved nice cars and I remember well his Lotus Elite.  His obituary said that the love of his life had been his young grandchildren.

              How does this happen ?  Yes, I moved away, married, had five children, developed several careers, built a couple of farms, sent children to college and stood in awe as they graduated and built homes or businesses, but I have just gotten started. I have just cleared my schedule enough to be able to achieve some of the things I really want to do.

             How can it be that some of the kindest and funniest friends I have known have been called home already ?   Perhaps it is no longer time to be patient. Perhaps it's time to achieve the things we wish to, while we still can.  By the way, my friend, if you are reading my post from the great beyond, I have only one grandson, and I quite agree with you on how wonderful they are.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

About Facebook


       If I were to be honest, I would tell you that although I appreciate blogger, e-mail and Linkedin, that I really don't enjoy Facebook much.  Because my new book "Portsoy Woods" has been released, I committed with the publisher to spending six hours a week on social media in its promotion. Only in Facebook can you arrive, be spammed with hundreds of people you don't know wishing to friend you. I accepted them, because this is how you make connections and sell books. Within minutes, two men claimed to love me (based on my book cover picture), one Middle Eastern man wanted me to deposit money in his account, and one man became angry because "I wasn't spending enough time with him online".  Only on facebook can you lose rating by not responding to your "new friends" quickly enough.  Yesterday, I was signed up to a pornographic group there without my permission.  With twenty minutes twice a day spent there, this is just a chance I will have to take. I don't know if this is translating into books purchased or not. A lot of the people who contact me don't seem to read or respond in English very well. It might be that the book would be too much of an effort for them to read in the first place. I don't really understand how spending time on what seems to be a dating site is going to help my book sales. But then, that's just me. Your own mileage could vary.

           If you are genuinely interested in the book, "Portsoy Woods", these are links which would enable you to read about it or purchase it. I would actually converse with someone who wanted to talk about that !